It has been over a month since I last posted. The truth is, I’ve had significant developments in my personal and professional life which have prevented me from keeping this blog up to date. I return to it now from a sense of need. I am a writer, and therefore, writing is not just what I do, it is how I process the world around me, as well a my own thoughts and experiences. Recently, my experiences have led me to a personal realization which, while generally unsurprising to those closest to me, has caused me a great deal of emotional upheaval. Without even fully realizing it I have been living in two closets; and unlike the skeptic’s closet, this one has taken me by surprise.
I’ll cut to the chase: I am bisexual.
For years I have said I was straight. As I grew older I admitted to being attracted to some women, but always maintained that I only had “the occasional girl-crush,” was “mostly straight,” or described my sexuality in terms of percentages. “I’m 70% straight,” I’d say. Then, “I’m 60% straight.” Finally I said “I have some bisexual tendencies.” However, it was not until a friend of mine put the bug in my ear that I finally began to accept my orientation.
Lark is pansexual and polyamorous. “Pansexual” means that she does not consider sex or gender identity to be exclusionary criteria when choosing sexual partners. Lark’s attractions are not significantly limited by sex or gender and so potential partners may be men, women, intergender, agender, transgender, transsexual, or intersex. This does not mean she does not have preferences, or that she sexually desires every individual she meets, only that her sexual and romantic preferences are determined by different criteria than most people.
“Polyamorous” means that Lark is capable of maintaining multiple sexual or romantic relationships at a given time. There are many different ways to practice polyamory, but in Lark’s case, she has a primary partner and also participates in other sexual or romantic relationships with the knowledge and consent of both her partner and the individuals with whom she is involved.
Back in June I went out to lunch with Lark and her boyfriend, Benedict. Unsurprisingly, the conversation turned to sexuality, and I danced around the ambiguity of my own orientation, claiming that my lack of sexual experience with women barred me from considering myself bisexual. “After all,” I said, “I don’t even know if I like sex with women, so how could I be bi-sexual?” Lark posed a simple question:
“Before you had sex with a man did you know you would like it?”
“Well…” I took a moment to think about it, “no.”
“Then why would women be any different?”
Over sandwiches and fries, and then as we walked about campus, Lark and Benedict showed me that I was falling into an old trap set for gays and lesbians for decades. How many times has the gay boy been told he just needs to “give women a try”? How many times has the lesbian been told she “just hasn’t met the right man”? And yet both of them may know where their attractions lie even before their first sexual encounter. In the same way we take for granted the desire for prince charming in the little girl who fancies herself a princess, it is reasonable to assume that gay and lesbian individuals are capable of knowing their orientation, even in the absence of experimentation.
And so it is with me.
I have never had a sexual relationship with a woman, but I know my capacity to love a woman is equal to my capacity to love a man. In fact, when I most recently visited my childhood home to attend the college graduation of some friends, I began confessing my bisexuality to close friends. No one was surprised.
Looking back I suppose there were signs. My fascination with gender, sexuality, and alternative relational models stretches back to my childhood. My first female attractions date back to age six or seven. When I recounted my “crush history” with my partner, David, he looked me in the eye and seriously asked, “why did you ever think you were straight?”
I have always been attracted to two genders. I realized this fully just over two months ago. In the last two months this realization, combined with recent personal circumstances, has changed the way I relate to other people, how I evaluate my childhood, and how I understand and relate to myself.